PONTE VEDRA BEACH — USF football's second shot at playing Florida has been pushed back for a third time, as the two schools won't meet in 2015.
USF athletic director Doug Woolard said Tuesday that the game — originally announced in 2002 to be played in 2009, then 2011, then 2015 — is no longer attached to any year, though the two schools remain contractually bound to play.
Woolard, attending the Big East's annual meetings, has shown a preference not to schedule road games for which USF doesn't receive a home date in return. This year's opener at Notre Dame is the only exception he has approved since becoming athletic director in 2004. USF played in Gainesville in September, a 38-14 loss. The Bulls have had home-and-home series with Florida State and Miami.
The Bulls are hesitant to schedule too many games until it's clear how many conference games they'll play as the Big East considers expansion. Starting in 2012, USF will have eight conference games instead of seven with the addition of TCU to the league. USF might opt to have one out-of-conference opponent from a BCS conference in the new model, and the Bulls are scheduled to play at Indiana in 2015.
APR improvements: USF's athletic department made major gains in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate scores, which measure teams' success in maintaining their athletes' eligibility and retention in the program.
USF football made the largest improvement of any BCS school, improving its overall four-year score to 952, up from 930 a year ago, and the two-year improvement of 43 points is 14 points better than the next closest by any BCS school. Men's basketball raised its four-year score from 915 to 937, well above the score of 925 below which a team is susceptible to sanctions from the NCAA.
"I'm excited about it; I think you can't talk about this without (mentioning) the job that Jason Linders does academically, the addition he's made to our academic team," football coach Skip Holtz said. "And the job this staff has done in getting involved in these players' lives."
Eight teams posted a perfect score of 1,000 for the 2009-10 academic year, highlighted by women's tennis, which was honored by the NCAA last week with special recognition for maintaining a four-year score of 1,000.
The only team that faced any penalties from the NCAA was women's basketball, whose score dropped to 917 from 952 due to heavy turnover in the 2009-10 season. Coach Jose Fernandez lost Jessica Monroe to academic issues and suspended Janae Stokes, Dominique English and Sequoyah Griffin indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The team went without two scholarships for the past year as a penalty for the low score but is back to full strength for the upcoming season.
"At the end of the day, I hold our kids academically and athletically responsible and for them to make the right decisions," Fernandez said.
Staying put: Woolard, mentioned as a possible candidate for the athletic director job at Illinois, said he has no plans to leave USF.
"It's probably more of a compliment to USF than it is to Doug Woolard," said the native of Carbondale, in southern Illinois. "We've got really good support here from the university and the Tampa Bay region, and we've been able to make some significant advancements. We have a lot of tremendous potential ahead of us, and I look forward to the opportunities we have in front of us."
Woolard was one of several names mentioned by the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register on Monday in a story discussing potential successors to Ron Guenther, who is retiring this summer.